Newsweek and Newsweeklies: It's Content that Matters, Mr. Diller

By Bob Sacks on May 01, 2013

Barry Diller made an interesting commentOpens in a new window on Monday when he said, "I wish I hadn't bought Newsweek, It was a mistake." It seems Mr. Diller does not yet understand that it is the value of the content provided to the public and not the perceived value of the property that makes one publication survive and thrive, while another crashes and burns. Mr. Diller called the idea of printing a single magazine "a fool's errand," especially "if that magazine is a newsweekly."
I don't agree. As an example I offer Bloomberg Businessweek, which is one of my favorite weekly magazines. Josh Tyrangiel, who is the editor ofBloomberg Businessweek, has done an outstanding job of creating a continuously fascinating magazine, week-in and week-out. In fact, Josh won the Editor Of The Year Award this year at the AMC/MPA Conference in San Francisco. At a different show in NYC, I saw Josh speak at the 2012 Publishing Business Conference & ExpoOpens in a new window, where he had some enlightening things to say. It is possible Mr. Diller could have profited from Josh's talk.
Josh said, "Those old titles didn't just die, they died because there were better things out there. ... We must change the value proposition. We want to actually earn the 5 bucks a week."  He went on to say, "The reason for publishing's terrible malaise was that no risks were taken. ... The digital era exposed the folly of past publishing practices."
Yes, the Newsasaurus Rex Newsweek is becoming extinct right before our eyes.
For what it is worth, I think Newsweek could have survived and thrived with a different approach and better editorial content. Then again, as I have said here before, there is no reason to think that everyone and every publishing house must survive. That is just not true. Clearly this is part of Darwin's natural selection of publishers that is now taking place.
Indeed, most of our industry is in the throes of on-going disruption the likes of which no one has ever seen before. Our future is riddled with opportunities and pitfalls as the new age of digital disruption marches on seemingly unstoppable.
For me, this is one of the most thrilling times to be in the publishing business in all of our noble history. Chris Keyes, editor of Outside, said a few years ago, "If you're in the business right now and not excited about all the changes, then you should get out of the business!"  I obviously and strongly agree with Mr. Keyes' statement

By Bob Sacks| May 01, 2013
Categories:  Industry News

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Bob Sacks

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